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Tips on creating my map layout?


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Hey Mapcore,

So I've had this for awhile now, but I can't seem to find a good way to devise a map layout. I've tried making it all at once, as well as bit by bit, but I never seem satisfied with what I've got. It's quite hard to explain. I'm interested in how you guys come up with your layouts, because I can't come up with a layout I like. Maybe it's more of a psychological thing where I can't see the good things in my maps, but I'm, not sure. How do you guys devise your layouts?


Edited by gleddez
Correcting spelling
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Trial and error for the most part. Normally I start with good old pen and paper, I just happen to have a tablet so that's what I used. I try to design a cool feature into the map at this point, in my example this is a giant "hole" in mid, since the theme is New York rooftops this works really well to make my map different.


At this stage I already know there will be flaws and issues, but the main point is to run around the map, get rough timings for the map, and to better understand the flaws I was mentioning before. I got a mid ( kinda ), connectors, sites, ct and t. I should also mention a good amount of time has been looking into reference material, reference material can be a good resource to draw from when you're thinking about the architecture of your map. From here you start fixing anything you think doesn't work.

This is the current version of my map, completely different. You can still see where my original ideas inspired the current version, but everything is different. My best advice is to put something down as fast as you can, either on paper or in the game. By time you finish your map, what you originally put down will be all but forgotten. You will never make a good initial layout, it will never feel good, it will never work. You just gottah' stick with it, and continue to tweak and revise until something starts working. 

Good luck my friend!



EDIT: clarity. 

Edited by Thewhaleman
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Start with an idea, draw it on paper (if you want to) make it, delete it, start again, revise it, delete it, start again, starting to get somewhere now, revise it, hmm, feeling better, revise it, nice. Then, play session, man this sucks, start again, The point I'm trying to make is, if it's a new game your in for a world of pain, and if it's a well understood game that your modding for, it's not easy either, because you'll have to go through many of the struggles the devs did because you don't have the info they learned. Making good maps is hard and takes a lot of commitment and failed attempts before you get it right. Spending the time to really understand the game your making a map for is essential, and a lot easier to do once a game is out and your making maps for it, than when it's in development and changing all the time,

The most important map I made was for a competitive tournament for cs 1.6, changed completely How I approached level design, it sure helped that I was a serious player at the time so I understood the game. But, I made LOTS of crappy maps and cool looking maps before that, so I got the visuals and technical part down, then it was about the gameplay. You really don't have to do things in the order that many schools teach you, drawing > layout > art, the point is there is a ton of things to learn and you'll need to be good at them all, so just have fun and do what feels right at the time. 

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If you are mapping for CSGO my preferred process is starting super simple and adding to based on playtest feedback. Maps should be lean as possible rather than overly complex and interminable

A mistake that new DE_ mappers often do is assume that to design a map you should design the bombsites first and the rest of the map is just pathing to these- it needs to be a connected whole or the map isn't going to feel or play right.

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Before working on a layout

Understand the game! I personally think this is really important to make a good working map. Do research on existing maps already. Give a good look at Dust 2, Mirage, Cache, Overpass and see what they have done with their layout. Understand the rules of mapping for CS:GO.

- There are always 3 main paths. 1 going to B bombsite, 1 midle and 1 too A bombsite. Most of the times the midle pathway is connected to the main paths to the bombsites, like you most likely see on all maps. Terrorists have control on these connectors and for CT it's usefull to rotate when the bomb is planted. Main path to the bombsite could split up in two roads to reach the bombsite. Always 1 main path and 1 additional more risky pathway. U can experiment with the midle like Overpass have done, that map uses two midles which also works nicely. 

- Timing for both teams is really important. Make sure CT always reaches the bombsite first and got time to set up a defence and get in position, throw a smoke and so on. Rotation time for CT to reach the other bombsite should be like 15 / 17 seconds maximum I think. Terrorists reaching the bombsite should be like 15 - 20 seconds. For CT I should take like - 3 / 5 seconds to reach the bombsite. idk u should experiment with that (this means the maps becomes almost square).   

- For the bombsites make use of crossfire. Example Dust 2 A bombsite. Terrorist can come A long and A short, they view the bombsite from totally different angles. 

- Try to keep the map simple with it's layout, dont add useless roads. Understand that others wont understand the map as good as u do since you made it and know every pixel. 

- Watch tutorials!! http://www.tophattwaffle.com/tutorials/ also 3kliksphillip has nice tutorials on youtube. 


Pencil and paper

It already been said. Start making your layout on paper with a pencil. It's something that can take alot of time, u can delete and add things untill it feels right. So start with simple lines and when u got something u like go add details like Thewhalemen have shown in his post. In this state u should already think of the rules I've said aboth. Maybe also write down the timing the pathways should have, make sure u know where to add difference in height. It could also help to have a theme for the map already, find some pictures for inspiration and base your layout on that. I think realsm can make a map really strong! It should be believable and logic. So simple, realistic and logic is the key to a good layout I guess.


Build your layout on paper into hammer using development texutures and nodraw. Make all the pathways and add simple walls. It's easier to work on a large grid, I suggest 16 or 32. When it's done, add some cover spots on the bombsite. Now go test the timings, I suggest to ask someone to help you. When the timings, pathways, angles, coverspots and everything feels right, go and test it 5 vs 5 in competetive mode. This progress takes longest, it's testing, adjusting, testing, adjusting and etc untill its perfect. That's in short what I do and know about gameplay and creating layouts


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Oh well @gleddez paint,gimp,photoshop or what ever could also work! Just uhmm it gotta be something which is easy to use for you and where u can easyly add, edit and remove things. For me that's a pencil and paper, I also like it because you can keep it on ur desk while working in Hammer so u dont have to minimize your screen all the time ;)

Edited by Roald
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Don't forget to try and incorporate balance into the map. If one bombsite is particularly open maybe make the other bombsite more enclosed to give variety to the gameplay. Again, balance long sight lines with short ones so sniping and shotguns both have their chance.

Also balance height: One flat level isn't fun and on a 2D surface it's harder to make gameplay more interesting. Experiment with increasing or decreasing the elevation of certain areas and then converting the floor to ramps to meet them but being careful of how steep these ramps are. I think a good measure is for every 2-4 units forward, go up 1 unit.

Other things include making sure you're always "moving forward" toward an objective, you don't want to be taking turns over 90 degrees that make you feel like you're walking back on yourself.

This is from the perspective of counter strike mapping, but I would hope this generally covers other games.

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